General Information

A Guide to the Major Cannabis Terpenes

By October 15, 2017 January 3rd, 2019 No Comments

Terpenes do more than just give cannabis its flavor and aroma. Terpenes are found in more than 2,000 varieties of plants, flowers, trees and other vegetation. Their health benefits make them something to pay attention to when choosing strains of cannabis to treat your ailments. This guide will discuss the major terpenes in cannabis, their known benefits and which strains to find them in.

Fun Fact: Over 200 natural terpenes have been identified in cannabis strains. More than 20,000 terpenes exist in nature.


Beta-Caryophyllene is found in items you likely eat regularly but may not even be aware of it. It is a spicy, earthy, somewhat peppery terpene that is commonly found in black pepper, rosemary, cinnamon and hops. This terpene is frequently used in cannabis and CBD topicals due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Potential medical benefits include:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-anxiety
  • Anti-depressant
  • Anti-cancer
  • Anti-carcinogenic
  • Analgesic
  • Gastric protectant
  • Curbs cravings for nicotine and alcohol
  • Reduces experience of pain
  • Neuro-protectant
  • Anti-proliferative

For those with chronic pain, cancer, anxiety and depression, this may be a terpene to seek out in your next cannabis purchase.

Sources of beta-caryophyllene include:

  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Hops
  • Oregano
  • Cloves
  • Black caraway
  • Lavender
  • Basil
  • Copaiba balsam
  • Cannabis and hemp


Beta-caryophyllene was synthesized for the first time in 1964. Its cannabinoid-like properties were discovered in Europe in 2008. It attaches and reacts to CB2 receptors and may enhance the euphoric effects of THC.

Beta-caryophyllene is often abbreviated to BCP.

Health Conditions that benefit from BCP:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammatory disorders
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Ulcers
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neuropathy
  • Improve female reproductive system health

There are no known dangers or risks associated with ingesting natural sources of BCP.

Cannabis strains with higher concentrations of BCP include:

  • Rockstar
  • Sour Diesel
  • Chemdawg
  • Bubba Kush
  • OG Kush
  • Skywalker OG
  • Diamond Girl
  • AMS

Some of the above strains are commonly available in multiple recreational and medical cannabis markets. If they are not available, ask your dispensary to look for a grower to produce them to offer in the local area.


Alpha Pinene

Alpha pinene is another important terpene. As you may have guessed from its name, it aids in the pine aroma and flavor of cannabis strains. It is found in pine trees most commonly. The best synergistic effect in cannabis occurs when both CBD, THC and CBN are present.

Natural sources of alpha pinene include:

  • Pine trees
  • Rosemary
  • Conifer trees/shrubs/plants
  • Pine needles
  • Sagebrush
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea tree oil
  • Juniper berries


Now, you shouldn’t go out and eat a pine tree, you’d likely become ill. Alpha pinene extracts and essential oils are available.

Potential healing properties of alpha pinene:

  • Bronchodilator (opens airways/bronchial tubes)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antibiotic properties (especially in regards to MRSA)
  • Increased alertness
  • Reduces skin oil production
  • Improves entourage effect
  • May reduce some effects of THC
  • Analgesic
  • Antioxidant
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-proliferative
  • Anti-microbial

FECO oil containing alpha pinene may be beneficial for those wanting to heal minor cuts/scrapes without a pharmaceutical/chemical-based option. FECO oil is Full Extract Cannabis Oil.

Potentially assists these health conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • MRSA
  • Cancer
  • Short term memory loss
  • Paranoia
  • Bronchitis/asthma/emphysema

Experts tout alpha-pinene for its strong cancer fighting properties.

Strains with higher concentrations of alpha pinene include:

  • Strawberry Cough (author’s choice in this category)
  • Romulan
  • Blue Dream
  • OG Kush
  • Island Sweet Skunk
  • Jack Herer
  • Trainwreck
  • Super Silver Haze
  • Bubba Kush
  • Chemdawg
  • Dutch Treat

Several of these strains are popular in the cannabis community with several being available regularly in multiple markets.

Alpha pinene works best synergistically with limonene, myrcene, beta-caryophyllene and linalool.


Myrcene is a common cannabis terpene that is also commonly found in mangoes. It helps add to the strength of fragrance. It is more common in indica and indica-dominant hybrids as it has sedative (relaxing) effects. Some strains can contain more than 0.5-percent of myrcene.

Eating mangoes before consuming cannabis may help create better synergy between cannabinoids and the blood-brain barrier.

Some known benefits of myrcene include:

  • Analgesic
  • Sedative
  • Antimutagenic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antibiotic
  • Anti-spasmodic
  • Anti-carcinogen
  • Antiseptic
  • Regulates permeability of cell membranes
  • Anti-diabetic
  • Antipsychotic
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-proliferative

Diabetics may want to combine a high CBD cannabis strain with a THC cannabis strain that contains myrcene. This cannabinoid is ideal for helping receptors in the endocannabinoid system bind together.

Myrcene can be found naturally in:

  • Ylang-ylang
  • Parsley
  • Hops
  • Bay
  • Wild thyme
  • Lemongrass
  • Basil
  • Cardamom
  • Eucalyptus
  • Verbena


Chances are – you’re eating some of these foods regularly and are already giving your body myrcene in small amounts.

Cannabis strains containing myrcene include:

  • Pink Kush
  • Jack Herer
  • Pure Kush
  • White Widow
  • Warlock CBD
  • Himalayan Gold
  • Special Kush 1
  • Skunk XL

When it comes to myrcene and other cannabinoids in cannabis, when myrcene is present, it helps all of the cannabinoids work better together.


Cannabis strains that smell a little spicy or earthy may contain humulene. It is known for its woody, earthy, spicy herbal notes. Several types of beer often smell earthy or woody. When humulene is heavily concentrated in a cannabis strain, it may smell similar to beer. The presence of other cannabinoids and their concentrations can affect the aroma of humulene.

Humulene is found naturally in:

  • Hops
  • Sage
  • Ginseng
  • Basil
  • Coriander
  • Black pepper
  • Some types of pine trees
  • Cloves
  • Spearmint


Fall flavors tend to swing on the earthy, comforting side, so you are more likely to consume humulene naturally during the fall months. While black pepper, coriander, hops and basil are used year-round, others such as sage and cloves are used more in the fall months.

Potential health benefits of humulene:

  • Analgesic
  • Appetite suppressant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anticonvulsant
  • Anti-tumor/anti-cancer/anti-proliferate
  • Anticoagulant
  • Antieczematic
  • Antifungal

This means that cannabis strains containing humulene may aid those with inflammatory disorders, seizure disorders, weight control difficulties and cancer. Bursitis and fibromyalgia are two potentially painful conditions in which inflammation is prevalent and can be difficult to control.

Cannabis strains containing humulene:

  • Girl Scout Cookies (GSC)
  • Headband
  • White Widow
  • Pink Kush
  • Sour Diesel (a personal favorite for pain, inflammation and depression)
  • Skywalker OG

Essential oils made from herbs containing humulene may be ideal for making homemade topicals to help reduce inflammation and/or pain from the outside in.

Closing Thoughts

We hope that by explaining some of the primary terpenes in cannabis that it will help you find strains that may provide better relief of your symptoms. With may terpenes occurring in herbs, spices and other plants it is easy to incorporate them more into your diet. Terpenes are valuable to the cannabis plant and to your body.

We’ll get to the rest of the most prominent terpenes in cannabis in our next article.

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